Metrolink secures $99M for automatic braking systems

The California Transportation Commission approved $99 million in funding to equip Metrolink trains with automatic braking systems that safety experts believe could have prevented the deadly 2008 train crash in Chatsworth.

The "Positive Train Control'' system transmits data about the location, speed and direction of trains. If an engineer does not stop at a red light, is on the wrong track, or goes too fast, positive train control will automatically stop the train and warn dispatchers.

Following the Chatsworth Metrolink crash, Congress made positive train control a requirement in rail systems by 2015.

Metrolink wants to have the system installed by 2013. With the funding approved today, the agency is just $10 million short of having the entire $201.6 million needed to meet that target.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hailed the California Transportation Commission's decision to fund the program.

"The entire region came together in an effort to ensure that Metrolink becomes the gold standard for safety and passenger rail travel throughout the country with state-of-the-art technology,'' Villaraigosa said.

The Chatsworth train crash -- one of the worst in California history -- occurred when a Metrolink engineer sending text messages on his phone ran a red light and collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train, killing 25 people and injuring 135.